Manchester United comfortably defeated Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor to close the gap on top-four rivals Manchester City to just one point with the derby up next for Jose Mourinho’s men.
First-half goals from Anthony Martial and the returning Wayne Rooney bagged United the three points and intensified Thursday’s now crucial meeting of the local adversaries.
Jose Mourinho made eight changes to his United line-up that defeated Anderlecht in extra-time in midweek with captain Rooney starting a Premier League game for the first time since early March in place of the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Martial leading the line ahead of the rested Marcus Rashford.
United came into this game looking to gain revenge for the frustrating goalless draw at Old Trafford back in October which led Sean Dyche to declare United were “the best side we’ve played against this season.”
Burnley on the other hand boast the highest points tally by a promoted team since Charlton Athletic in 2000/01 and have the sixth best home record in the division, so the Reds knew it would be no mean feat to break down a stubborn Clarets defence.
United have the division’s best points per game average in away matches though and it took just eight minutes for the first glimpse at goal as Martial slid the ball back to Ander Herrera in the box and he found Rooney, but the United captain’s effort was blocked and saved by ex-Reds goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
A few minutes later, Marouane Fellaini climbed highest to head at Heaton following a corner, whilst at the other end Jeff Hendrick did well to evade United right-back Ashley Young, but his dangerous cross was blocked and Ben Mee headed the resulting corner onto the roof of the net.
United broke the deadlock on 21 minutes in clinical fashion and it was a move started and finished by Martial. The Frenchman won the ball in the Burnley half and in a matter of seconds it was in the Burnley net as a blistering counter-attack had the visitors’ no.11 driving forward and laying the ball off to Herrera, who then squared it back for the 21-year-old to slot past Heaton.